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March 2, 2024
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Vietnam arrests two provincial medical officials for alleged corruption

Authorities in Vietnam Friday arrested two provincial medical officials for their alleged role in the high-profile Viet A test-kit scandal, state media reported.

Duong Ba Than Dan, the director of the Department of Medical Supplies at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, in the southeastern province of Ninh Thuan, and Nguyen Dang Duc, part of his staff, were accused of colluding with the medical supplier to increase the prices of COVID-19 test-kits, causing a significant loss to the state budget.

The two officials are the latest to be implicated in the scandal, which involved the company’s chief executive officer bribing officials the equivalent of U.S.$34 million to win contracts to sell substandard kits to hospitals at a 45% markup, earning his company U.S.$172 million in profits.

State media did not disclose how much of the state budget Dan and Duc are accused of misusing.

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An official at the Ninh Thuan province Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Vietnam [shown] and a member of his staff have been accused of corruption. Credit: State media/CAND

The scandal was uncovered in December 2021 when the Ministry of Public Security prosecuted and arrested Viet A’s CEO Phan Quoc Viet, four staff, and the director and chief accountant at the CDC office in the northern province of Hai Duong. 

 The Ministry of Public Security has arrested and prosecuted many high-ranking officials for their involvement in the case, including then Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Pham Cong Tac, and Chairman of Hanoi People’s Committee Chu Ngoc Anh. Dozens of CDC leaders and officers from various cities and provinces were also arrested. 

Former Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc was forced to step down in January this year and was removed from the Politburo to take responsibility for corruption cases that happened during his term in office. Despite his denial, rumors still connect his wife to the Viet A scandal. 

On February 2, 2023, the Ministry of Public Security’s spokesperson, Lieutenant General To An Xo said that as of that day, investigation police agencies at all levels had prosecuted 104 people involved in the case and had frozen assets worth around 1.7 trillion dong (US$74.5 million). 

Translated by Anna Vu. Edited by Eugene Whong.

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